Top positive review
'' 'Democracy' requires a supra-governmental of professionals to sift the data, think things through, and keep from blowing up''
Reviewed in the United States on December 25, 2016
This work from 1922 explains the new 'science' of propaganda discovered in WW1. They found the ability of professionals to persuade the populace to die and suffer for - What?
''From his observations on the Allied propaganda drives’ immense success (and his own stint as a U.S. war propagandist), and from his readings of Gustave LeBon, Graham Wallas and John Dewey, among others, Lippmann had arrived at the bleak view that “the democratic El Dorado” is impossible in modern mass society, whose members—by and large incapable of lucid thought or clear perception, driven by herd instincts and mere prejudice, and frequently disoriented by external stimuli—were not equipped to make decisions or engage in rational discourse.''
(I just read Gustave Le Bon’s “The Crowd: A Study Of the Popular Mind”. Great!)
Wow! Society ''incapable of lucid thought''. Now what?
'' 'Democracy' therefore requires a supra-governmental body of detached professionals to sift the data, think things through, and keep the national enterprise from blowing up or crashing to a halt. Although mankind surely can be taught to think, that educative process will be long and slow. In the meantime, the major issues must be framed, the crucial choices made, by 'the responsible administrator.' ''
Requires a ''supranational governmental body''! Who is that?
“It is on the men inside, working under conditions that are sound, that the daily administration of society must rest.” While Lippmann’s argument is freighted with complexities and tinged with the melancholy of a disillusioned socialist, Bernays’s adaptation of it is both simple and enthusiastic:
“We are governed, our minds are molded, our tastes formed, our ideas suggested, largely by men we have never heard of.”
''These “invisible governors” are a heroic elite, who coolly keep it all together, thereby “organizing chaos,” as God did in the Beginning.
“It is they who pull the wires which control the public mind, who harness old social forces and contrive new ways to bind and guide the world.” While Lippmann is meticulous—indeed, at times near-Proustian—in demonstrating how and why most people have such trouble thinking straight, Bernays takes all that for granted as “a fact.”
‘Pull the wires on the puppets!’ What? As God did? Who is this?
''It is a sort of managerial aristocracy that quietly determines what we buy and how we vote and what we deem as good or bad.
“They govern us,” the author writes, “by their qualities of natural leadership, their ability to supply needed ideas and by their key position in the social structure.”
Man . . . this is . . . bad . . . right? It . . . is . . . so . . . scary!
I - ORGANIZING CHAOS
II - THE NEW PROPAGANDA
III - THE NEW PROPAGANDISTS
IV - THE PSYCHOLOGY OF PUBLIC RELATIONS
V - BUSINESS AND THE PUBLIC
VI - PROPAGANDA AND POLITICAL LEADERSHIP
VII - WOMEN’S ACTIVITIES AND PROPAGANDA
VIII -PROPAGANDA FOR EDUCATION
IX - PROPAGANDA IN SOCIAL SERVICE
X - ART AND SCIENCE
XI - THE MECHANICS OF PROPAGANDA
WW1 changed everything -
''It was not until 1915 that governments first systematically deployed the entire range of modern media to rouse their populations to fanatical assent. Here was an extraordinary state accomplishment: mass enthusiasm at the prospect of a global brawl that otherwise would mystify those very masses, and that shattered most of those who actually took part in it. The Anglo-American drive to demonize “the Hun,” and to cast the war as a transcendent clash between Atlantic “civilization” and Prussian “barbarism,” made so powerful an impression on so many that the worlds of government and business were forever changed.''
Propaganda now rules!
''Today, however, a reaction has set in. The minority has discovered a powerful help in influencing majorities. It has been found possible so to mold the mind of the masses that they will throw their newly gained strength in the desired direction. In the present structure of society, this practice in inevitable. Whatever of social importance is done today, whether in politics, finance, manufacture, agriculture, charity, education, or other fields, must be done with the help of propaganda.''
‘Minority dominates the majority’! Mold the mind of the ‘masses’!
''Propaganda is the executive arm of the invisible government. Universal literacy was supposed to educate the common man to control his environment. Once he could read and write he would have a mind fit to rule. So ran the democratic doctrine. But instead of a mind, universal literacy has given him rubber stamps, rubber stamps inked with advertising slogans, with editorials, with published scientific data, with the trivialities of the tabloids and the platitudes of history, but quite innocent of original thought.''
‘Education kills original thought’! What deceit! How . . . so . . . demeaning!
''Each man’s rubber stamps are the duplicates of millions of others, so that when those millions are exposed to the same stimuli, all received identical imprints. It may seem an exaggeration to say that the American public gets most of its ideas in this wholesale fashion. The mechanism by which ideas are disseminated on a large scale is propaganda, in the broad sense of an organized effort to spread a particular belief or doctrine.''
‘Everyone approves . . . wants . . . believes . . . exactly the same thing! Even if destructive!
The balance of this book explains how this new 'propaganda' can/does function.
(Rebecca Goldstein notes in her book on Gödel - ''He came to believe that there was a vast conspiracy, apparently in place for centuries, to suppress the truth “and make men stupid.” Those who had discovered the full power of a priori reason, men such as the seventeenth-century’s Leibniz and the twentieth-century’s Gödel, were, he believed, marked men.'' (Is this so different than Bernays? One sophisticated influence peddler, the other an ivory tower world famous logician! Amazing!)
(See - ''Propaganda: The Formation of Men's Attitudes'', by Jacques Ellul. This focuses on the psychological/philosophical basis of propaganda. Outstanding!)